According to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is offering law enforcement agencies funding incentives to setup checkpoints that target only motorcyclists. Based off a controversial program used by the New York State Police, the NHTSA is offering $350,000 in grants to five law enforcement agencies to run the program, which if successful could be further funded and expanded across the entire United States.
The checkpoints, which derive their legality from DUI checkpoint court rulings, primarily look for motorcyclists riding without a license or DOT approved helmet, and cite riders for aftermarket exhaust and lighting modifications. However the checkpoints fundamentally differ from DUI checkpoints in that they specifically are targeting a minority group of citizens (DUI checkpoints involve all motorists), and are doing so with no presumption that there is an increased risk to motorcyclists and the community as a whole when the checkpoints are being conducted.
Taking issue with the program’s funding, the AMA has asked the NHTSA, to suspend the grant program until questions raised by the motorcycling community are addressed.
“How do motorcycle-only checkpoints increase the safety of motorcyclists?” Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations, wrote in a letter to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland on August 9th. “Will ‘probable cause’ be required to stop a motorcycle under the terms of this grant program? If so, what will constitute probable cause?”
The AMA is urging all riders to contact Strickland and the NHTSA, and ask that the discriminatory Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstration grant program be suspended until questions raised by the motorcycling community are addressed. Contacting Strickland and the NHTSA has been made easier with the AMA’s action alert program. Click here to have your voice heard (link will bring up a new window, click “take action” for a pre-formated email to David Strickland at the NHTSA).